Now that December is here, it's time to make sure that your garden is properly prepared and ready for winter weather. If you're not sure about where to find winter gardening ideas or information about the best garden projects, we have some suggestions. Your yard may look dormant, but there are still a number of important tasks to be carried out and for gardeners in Northern California, now is the time get winterizing to insure your garden is healthy and beautiful in the spring.
Protect Those Plants
With winter coming, your plants need a little TLC. Delicate container plants can be brought inside into a conservatory if you have one, or into a warm room of the house. If a severe cold spell is predicted, cold sensitive plants that can’t be brought indoors can be wrapped in burlap to protect them from the frost. Now is a good time to cut back dead plant growth and mulch around healthy plants. Mulching helps soils retain moisture over the winter months and will help protect plants from damage caused by the freeze/thaw cycle. Plants won't need as much water as they do in the warmer months, but don't stop watering. Plants need hydration year-round, and drier plants are more likely to suffer damage from cold weather. While growth is dormant, divide and separate plants that are getting too big for their current space and move them to new flower beds. Shrubs that are getting spindly and rangy can be trimmed back and they will have a flush of new growth in the spring.
If you intended to plant bulbs for spring and never got around to it, it's probably not too late. The ideal time to plant bulbs is a few weeks before hard frost arrives, giving the bulbs time to get established. But bulbs are tough and often flourish in less than ideal conditions. If you haven't planted bulbs before, it's easy! Dig a hole or a trench that's about three times the diameter of the bulb, making sure to turn the soil over well. Sprinkle in some manure and some compost in the base of the hole or trench. Drop the bulbs in root side down and cover with soil. Add a layer of mulch and then wait for gorgeous blooms to appear in spring. If you plant a variety of bulb types such as daffodils, tulips and lilies, you should get plenty of colorful blooms from spring into early summer. Watch this video on helpful bulb-planting techniques for more information.
As a conscientious gardener, you probably watered your trees this summer, but did you realize that trees need care throughout the winter? Although trees may shed their leaves and look dormant, there's activity going on below ground level as roots continue to grow, and if you want beautiful healthy trees in spring, watering is one of the best things you can do for them. In order to encourage healthy growth, watering should be slow and deep. Shallow watering can result in a shallow root system and a tree with deep roots is much more likely to be sturdy and drought resistant. Depending on the type of tree and the amount of rainfall, a general rule of thumb is water once or twice a month between October and March.
If a tree has been planted within the last two years it may need more frequent watering, as the roots are still establishing themselves. You can get more helpful tips and information about tree watering techniques and practices from the National Arbor Day Foundation. Trees should also be mulched in the winter: use wood chips, shredded leaves or pine needles and pile the mulch about 4 inches deep, making sure to keep it six inches away from the tree trunk. Mulching will help the ground around the tree retain moisture throughout the winter.
As your lawn goes dormant for the winter, it's not too late to think about the need for re- seeding it. If your lawn has been heavily used during the summer and fall, re-seeding will rejuvenate the grass and get the lawn into great shape for spring. Winter is also a great time to aerate your lawn and deal with the compaction of turf that may have resulted from all the activities of summer. Aerating and loosening the soil will help your lawn take in the water, oxygen and other nutrients it needs over the winter to be healthy, happy and green for spring.
Use BizPals to Find a Gardening Service
Now that you have a plan for winterizing your garden, you may decide that you need professional assistance, especially with your busy holiday schedule. Use our Services Directory to find top gardeners and landscapers. And use our guides to hiring and evaluating gardeners and landscapers to ease you through the selection process and help you evaluate the performance of gardening services in areas such as responsiveness, professionalism and punctuality.